The United Auto Workers Union will put the emphasis on “creative problem solving,” rather than confrontation as it reopens contract talks, this summer, with Detroit’s Big Three automakers.
Intent on putting aside the traditional hardball tactics that have defined automotive labor/management relations over the last 75 years, UAW President Bob King said union negotiators may not even set a strike target as they approach their mid-September deadline. But that would be a limited option anyway, he acknowledged, as terms of the government’s 2009 bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler mean that only Ford could even be threatened with a walkout this year.
During a meeting of the Detroit Automotive Press Association, the UAW president meanwhile offered both a carrot and a stick to companies like Toyota, who have managed to so far avoid union organizing efforts. Give workers a fair chance to vote, King promised, and the union will accept the results, win or lose. But resisting calls for an election, he asserted, could lead to a global boycott.
“Creative problem solving,” said King, “is the ideal we’re both striving for.” Confrontation, he insisted, was a thing of the past.